Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!

Two Fridays ago, Fosco and his adorable boyfriend Oz devoted an evening to art at the rockin' Dennis DeYoung Museum. Did you know that, in the future, rock music will be outlawed? Luckily, "rock and roll misfit" Robert Orin Charles Kilroy will escape from the futuristic prison by pretending to be one of the robot guards. That's what happens when you try to outlaw rock and roll. Word.

Oh wait. Oz and Fosco actually went to San Francisco's delightful de Young Museum (of art). You may recall the de Young's flashy new copper-clad Herzog and de Meuron building.

The building is gorgeous in pretty much every way. But what else does the de Young have going for it?

Well, for one thing, it's not afraid of some fun. Fosco and Oz went for the weekly Friday night cocktail party and it was great. The museum stays open until 8:45 and serves cocktails, offers children's activities, and has a live DJ spinning tunes in the main hall. The crowd was a great mix: arty yuppies in fancy clothes, families in casual dress, hip art students with clunky glasses, young professionals, old people, and tons of hippies. Check out the ensemble on this chubby guy in his fifties (it's hard to take a surreptitious photo of someone in a museum):

That's a purple and white leopard print fur jacket. With purple bell bottoms (with the embroidered pattern on the bells). What you can't see: the skintight purple stretch shirt over his potbelly and the black kufi hat. That is some kind of style!

The tower observation deck was great fun, although the fog was rolling in and obscuring the long view. Here's a pic of Oz taking a phone call in the tower:

See the fog? And the metal grate trim? Very cool.

Here are two views of the museum from the tower. The first is of the main entrance courtyard.

And here is the rest of the museum as seen from the tower.

But what of the art? The de Young has been criticized recently for booking mostly "fluffy" visiting shows (lots of fashion, etc.) at the expense of serious fine arts shows. To some extent, this criticism is probably fair; however, Fosco can think of some pretty fluffy fine arts shows at "serious museums" around the country (think of those blockbuster French Impressionist shows that the Art Institute of Chicago is always doing. Ugh.).

Not to mention that the de Young offered us a thrilling visiting retrospective of Hiroshi Sugimoto--the extremely-serious contemporary Japanese photographer. Fosco has loved Sugimoto for years, having seen an installation of his seascapes at the Met in NYC during Semester Break 1993 (on a trip with his college roommates). The de Young installation was breath-taking. The photos were spotlit in completely dark galleries: they took on the force of religious objects. The seascapes were remarkable as always:

I had always wanted to see his film photographs, in which he uses a long exposure to take a photograph of an entire movie. The result produces a bright and otherwordly movie screen, surrounded by a still (and often ornate) theater:

And how irresistible is the 50 foot long backlit photograph of 1000 Buddhas in Kyoto (excerpt below):
The Sugimoto show was brilliant and entirely satisfying. It was the highlight of the evening.

But what of the art in the de Young's permanent collection? As Fosco is unfit to judge anything but twentieth century European and American art, he cannot comment on the permanent collection as a whole. However, the parts he saw were not entirely distinguished.

The de Young has a beautiful collection of art glass, with attractive works by Chihuly, Bertil Vallien, and Jon Kuhn. Here's a picture of Kuhn's "Portals of Andromeda" (with Oz in the background):

The glass work is all very impressive and quite eye-catching, but what exactly is it saying? It's all a bit... decorative.

As for more meaningful art, the de Young isn't too stacked. They have some decent pieces by important artists, but very little that stands out. There is one gorgeous Diebenkorn from his "Ocean Park" series. Here is Ocean Park 116:

There's a charming Demuth (and Fosco does love Demuth). This is "From the Garden of the Chateau":

Oh, and there's one fun (though ultimately unsatisfying) Wayne Thiebaud:

Yum, bubblegum!

On the whole, it was a completely magical evening. Art (even less distinguished art) is fun. Oz is fun. An evening in Golden Gate Park is fun.

But then we had to ruin it by having an uncharacteristically bad meal at Fosco's beloved Chow.

1 comment:

todd said...

"The glass work is all very impressive and quite eye-catching, but what exactly is it saying? It's all a bit... decorative."

It's saying, "Hi, I'm Superman's Fortress of Solitude."